Example (Ukraine crisis: Putin shows who is boss in Crimea):

As a result, the US and Europe imposed economic sanctions on Russia, and Crimea's annexation is formally recognised by next to no-one.

I know the expression next to nothing which people use to say that there is almost nothing of something. Is next to no-one a play on this idiom?

  • Next to nothing doesn't mean absolutely nothing, but almost nothing. In the same way, next to no-one means almost no-one. – oerkelens Aug 20 '15 at 9:54

"Next to no-one" refers to people, whilst "next to nothing" refers to objects.

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